Suburban America is a strategic mission field.
As a teenager, I’d thumb through the missions catalog. Each location for a short-term mission project felt a bit like hope. Hope for change. Hope for adventure. And most of all, hope that I was living a full Christian life. In my evangelical youth group, the pinnacle of leadership and belonging came through missions—missions to Mexico or a mission trip to Europe. Missionaries were serious about God. In those days, it seemed to me these career paths were just a matter of a simple equation: If you loved Jesus and took your faith seriously, then you’d choose to move overseas as a missionary or at least work in full-time vocational ministry here.
But now, most of us in America live rather ordinary lives in the suburbs. Our days are more often filled with driving children to soccer in our minivans than sharing the gospel with unbelievers. Rather than building houses for the poor, we join the PTA. We go to church and wonder—maybe when we hear a missionary speak—if we somehow missed our calling. If we’re not in full-time vocational ministry, if we’re not missionaries, or if we’re not a key leader in our local congregation, how do we connect the dots between what we say we believe and the lives we live? If we’re not doing “big things” for God, is there a way to live gospel-centered, outward-focused lives in the suburbs?
The suburbs aren’t a second-rate mission field. They are, for many of us, the place to which we’ve been called, the place we are to love and serve, and a place where we can live as missionaries right in the small spaces of our ordinary lives in our cul-de-sacs. Suburbia is a strategic mission field.
The Suburbs Are Changing
Contrary to the …